While some students might engage in feats of Spring Break debauchery this Sunday, they won't be streaking their way into the pages of history.

March 7 commemorates the 30th anniversary of the night the University set the national streaking record in 1974.

The anatomical antics began about a week prior, when a streaking phenomenon swept across the nation's college campuses.

In Athens, hundreds of students dashed between buildings and even through classrooms and lecture halls, wearing nothing more than a grin, the occasional pair of sunglasses or a H.R. Puff-n-Stuff mask.

One female student, who danced in her birthday suit atop Reed Hall, was anonymously quoted in The Red & Black.

"I feel funky, man," she said. "It was just like the first skinny-dip of summer."

"It was all done in a fairly good-natured spirit," said alumnus Kenny Poland. "It was a novelty and a little relief from the grueling academics of midterms."

But the antics quickly turned from naked fun to competition, when about 500 unclothed University of South Carolina students revealed their bare necessities in the streets of Columbia, setting a national record.

Not to be upstaged, University students began planning the "big streak," a counter attack that would take place the night of March 7.

"I'm from Macon, Georgia, coming up to the big university, and everyone's gonna take their clothes off," said Joel Mann, who was a freshman at the time. "And I'm thinking, this'll be pretty cool if this happens. And it did."

On that Thursday evening in 1974, more than 1,000 students congregated in the Myers Hall quad in excited anticipation for the romp in the raw.

Nearly 15,000 other Athenians lined the route down Sanford Drive with chairs and coolers of beer, waiting to catch a glimpse of the sprinting streakers.

At promptly 11 p.m., an organizer with a megaphone ordered everyone in the quad to "drop drawers," Mann said.

The streakers then poured exuberantly out of the starting gate -- where they were officially counted -- and onto Sanford Drive through a course that ran three quarters of a mile.

"I wish I had the courage to join them," an elderly bystander told the Athens Banner-Herald at the time. "They look like they're having a swell time."

Many students sported ski masks, bags or sacks so as to avoid easy identification, but some streakers still couldn't escape recognition.

"I had my gym shorts on my head, but as I was going over the bridge someone yelled, 'Look! There's Joel Mann!'" Mann said. "I turned around and busted my ass. I got up and kept running, but I still never found out who recognized me."

Despite the occasional spill, the University rose to the occasion, boasting 1,543 nude streakers and a new national record.

Even though the incident was 30 years ago, one student said that he still feels pride in his school for such illustrious notoriety.

"Forget the SEC East Championship," said Brett Belcher, a sophomore from Marietta, after learning of the record. "Let's repeat that!"

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(1) comment


Interesting story, as far as it goes. You left out the part, three nights prior, when the Athens police tear-gassed about 50 students who were streaking between two high-rise dorms on Baxter St. The cops hadn't learned anything about how to handle crowds in the street, even though the Vietnam years had given them plenty of opportunities.

That tear-gassing inspired around 900 streakers the next night, again on Baxter. UGA's student government worked with the administration and the cops to stop the tear-gassing (the cops stood ready about a block away, but SGA was able to keep things light). THEN came the attempt to set the record. All in all, it was almost a week of streaking. Interesting times!

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